TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Irving Wallace on Deadly Friend

throw mamma a basketball!

One film that traumatized me for life was DEADLY FRIEND. I saw this film when I was around 6 when my babysitter used to work at a video store and would rent all the horror movies for me to watch. She got me DEADLY FRIEND one day and the scene where Samantha’s having a dream and her dad comes in and starts cussing at her and going crazy like he’s gonna rape her or something, and then she takes a flower vase and sticks it in his eye and he starts laughing and screaming while blood is streaming out of the vase! Of course I love this film now, and it’s one of my faves, but it still kinda freaks me out when I see this scene. Also some other good scenes in the film would be when Elvira Parker (ANNE RAMSEY from THE GOONIES) gets her head blown off by a basketball that Sam threw; when Sam kills her dad in the cellar by burning him; and the ultra close up shots of brain surgery.

TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Ryan Midnight on G.I. Joe



There is an episode from the first season of G.I. JOE called “There’s No Place Like Springfield” in which Shipwreck is captured and put under hypnosis in an attempt to get some top secret information out of him. In one part of this dream, Shipwreck watches as some of his fellow G.I. Joe team members literally melt before his eyes! It was this part that just freaked the Hell right out of me. I think I must have come in on the episode halfway, because I didn’t know at the time what was happening in the plot. I never watched another episode of G.I. Joe again, for fear that I might unknowingly stumble across “that” episode. 

Unkle Lancifer says: All you critters out there feel free to visit Ryan any time of day at his home turf MOVIES AT MIDNIGHT! And check out this link to the EPISODE IN QUESTION. Ryan ain’t kidding, it’s a real doozy mind-screw that plays like JACOB’S LADDER: THE ANIMATED SERIES. (If MACAULAY CULKIN‘s part was played by a parrot!)


Demon Seed

After super computer Proteus (voiced by ROBERT VAUGHAN) and his creator Alex Harris (FRITZ WEAVER) agree to disagree about the ecological risks of ocean mining among other things, Proteus decides to take matters into his own non-hands by highjacking the home of Harris’s estranged wife Susan(JULIE CHRISTIE).Touchy-feely seventies psychology goes head to head with clinical science as these two battle for control of the roost. With the help of an armed wheel chair and absolute power over every electronic device available in the futuristic domicile, Proteus easily gains the upper metalic hand by breaking Susan down PATTY HEARST style. It turns out that the all-knowing computer is not interested in harming his human speciman, but rather wants to impregnate her with his child to achieve imortality. Less famous than its SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR parody, DEMON SEED is an interesting, though far fetched psychedelic ride obvioulsly indebted if not in awe of STANLEY KUBRICK’S masterpiece 2001: A SPACE ODDITY. The end results of Proteus’s biological tinkering are amusing at first thanks to some wonky effects work but when the scales are peeled off the new-age golden child, we learn that our domineering databank may have had a heart after all.


  • CHRISTIE gets “baked” in her kitchen
  • The simulated electric shock doorbell death of a little girl
  • The trippy insemination dream
  • Birth of a 14 carrot gold Garbaage Pail Kid

The Gate

the gate
Glenn (a young STEPHEN DORFF), his pal Terry and his big sister “Al” (CHRISTA DENTON from NOT MY KID) are shouldering some new found responsibility, not only are they spending the weekend sans guardians, but they’ve also accidentally, through a string of missteps that include bloodletting, animal sacrifice and incantation, kinda-sorta opened the doorway to hell. That doorway is a bad thing cuz the creeps who plan to use it are “the old ones” — ancient Lovecrafty monsters that used to inhabit our world and are itching to get it back. (Thankfully Terry is a metal head and got a heads up by playing an LP backwards.) Can they close THE GATE and save the planet from an eternity of darkness? Well it’s either that or re-title the picture DON’T TELL MOM THE WHOLE WORLD IS DEAD! This fun nostalgic romp will instantly bring you back to the time of first sleepovers complete with basement wreck rooms, flashlights, ghost stories and levitation experiments. Brimming with some of the most creative special effects ever put to screen, it’s easy to overlook the script’s earnest attempts to tackle its characters less fantastic dilemmas. Terry has lost his mother recently and siblings Glen and Al’s age difference is coming into play. An awkward time is perfectly captured as big sis Al throws away her dolls in exchange for trips to the mall, and Glen is left fending for himself and sweating the mortality of the family dog. These psychological demons are battled alongside miniature imp creatures, a relentless zombie and an enormous kraken-like overlord beast that tears through the house. Unabashedly soft-hearted (love saves the day), THE GATE is still no slouch when it comes to the gore, and you simply have not lived until you’ve seen somebody stabbed in the eye with a Barbie doll leg!


  • Dead mom turns into dead dog
  • Bumpy moving walls and the hands under the bed
  • The parents return evil… “YOU’VE BEEN BAD!
  • Terry falls into the gate, imps attack his leg
  • Terry’s made up story about a construction worker being stuck in the wall becomes real
  • Giant demon breaks through the living room floor!
  • Weapon of choice? Toy rocket!

The Night of the Hunter

After getting pinched for grand-theft auto, serial-widow-killer/preacher Harry Powell (ROBERT MITCHUM) spends some quality time in the pokey with Ben Harper (PETER GRAVES), a father of two sentenced to death for killing two men and stealing $10,000. Preacher Powell takes note of the never-recovered cash, and upon his release makes his way into the heart of Harper’s young widow Willa (SHELLEY WINTERS). Powell’s scripture spouting routine fools everyone in town, except for Willa’s young son John (BILLY CHAPIN) who kept a promise to his father to never reveal that the money is stashed in his kid sister Pearl’s rag doll. Powell quickly dispenses of Willa with his trusty switchblade when she realizes that he only married for the money, and sets his sadistic sights on the two children. John and Pearl escape down the river in a rowboat, and eventually find refuge in a makeshift orphanage run by the salt-of-the-Earth Rachel Cooper (LILLIAN GISH). Equally versed in the Bible, Mrs. Cooper sees through Powell’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing façade, and brings the deplorable deacon to justice with the aid of her even trustier shotgun.THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER was, sadly, the only movie directed by veteran character actor CHARLES LAUGHTON ( THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS). It almost seems as if he took a page out of ORSON WELLES’ CITIZEN KANE playbook, and ran down the field for a touchdown with his masterful use of black-and-white cinematography. The shots, coupled with the skillful use of shadows, provides the film with the much-needed tension that elevates it beyond your basic good-vs.-evil/ cat-and-mouse structure. Most of the movie feels and looks like a painting come to life

ROBERT MITCHUM is undeniable in the bad-ass department, but he really meets his match in the slight frame of LILLIAN GISH. There’s something to be said about maternal instincts and the powers that they hold. GISH, although portraying a God-fearing lady, subtlety conveys a “DO NOT FUCK WITH ME, OR THESE CHILDREN!” sentiment with a cock of her eyes upon meeting MITCHUM on her porch. The scene in which she holds an all-night vigil in her rocker with a shotgun, while Powell is outside singing, and she finishes the chorus to the ditty, is the first sign of peace this tense film allows.


  • Mrs. Cooper surrounded by the chorus of disembodied kids heads in the opening sequence
  • Preacher Powell’s explanation for the tattoos on his hands
  • SHELLEY WINTERS’ watery grave scene in the car at the bottom of the lake
  • John & Pearl barely escaping Powell on the basement steps (Why isn’t this movie credited for initiating that horror-flick staple?)
  • The lynch-mob scene (not unlike those featured on THE SIMPSONS) that forms outside of the courthouse

TRAUMAFESSIONS: Christopher Youngblood on The Amityville Horror



Years ago when I was younger one of my brothers and a few of his friends were talking about THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and how scary it was. I eventually talked my older brother Dan into letting me watch it…BIG mistake! At the film’s end, I thought “That wasn’t too scary,” but I was dreaming if I thought I would find sleep that night or any night anytime soon. That movie had such a profound effect on me that I was not able to sleep for nearly two weeks. My parents eventually had to take me to a therapist to help me with my insomnia. That movie terrified me so badly, and my brother was in the doghouse for a long time for showing that to me! What scared me so bad is that I thought it was all true and that something like that could happen to me as well. There are not many things that scare me on this planet, but the Devil does. To this day that movie still gives me the creeps!

If you’d like to read Christopher’s take on many of your favorite slasher flicks, check him out over at Unkle Lancifer’s Alma Mater RETRO SLASHERS!

Ghost Story

The chowder society, a group of elderly gentlemen played by screen legends FRED ASTAIRE, MELVYN DOUGLAS, DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS JR. and JOHN HOUSEMAN (THE FOG), gather on occasion to spook each other out with ghost stories. All of its members are beginning to not only have horrific dreams but also vivid visitations from a female spirit. The groups actual function may be for its members to silently commiserate about a dastardly deed they themselves committed long ago. The apparition is apparently feeding off their guilt while seeking vengeance for this unmentionable act. The son of one of its members (ELM STREET 3’s CRAIG WASSON) has hands-on knowledge of the ghost’s vendetta, not only because she killed his twin sibling but because he’s been playing dirty bath tub games with her himself. This movie is a real heartbreaker. It has elements that are absolutely sublime, like it’s gorgeous cinematography, bombastic BERNARD HERMAN-like score, not to mention it’s trump card, an other worldly  performance by ALICE KRIGE (SILENT HILL), and yet every time it should be leaping, it frustratingly pulls back on the reigns. Based on PETER STRAUB’S novel, arguably one of the best modern supernatural tales in existence, one expects more. Sadly the script not only bites off more than it can chew but out of exhaustion, settles for gnawing on the plate rather than the meal. Ambiance goes a long way and there are some real chills to be found here, but you do have to wade through several very ineffective scare scenes as well. Sloppy editing, characters leaping toward the camera, and poorly orchestrated prat falls abound. But if loving GHOST STORY is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It’s got some major flaws, but every time I see FAIRBANKS take his fateful walk toward the town bridge through a blanket of all encompassing snow I’m in my happy place. Did I mention the gorgeous matte work of ALBERT WITLOCK is like a gift from God? Maybe when I’m dead I’ll come back to haunt the script writer and editor and I’ll finally feel fulfilled.


  • WASSON‘s full frontal skyscraper fall
  • When they were younger the chowderheads were so douche-y that one of them had to be played by KEN OLIN
  • DICK SMITH’s awesome effects, though sometimes sloppily incorporated, consistently break the tedium
  • FRED ASTAIRE carries a blade and he ain’t afraid to use it!

TRAUMAFESSIONS: Reader Laurel C. on Isadora

i really shouldn't have worn this scarf

… A movie that traumatized me and put me off scarves to this day… was ISADORA (1968), and stars VANESSA REDGRAVE as the dancer Isadora Duncan. I’ve searched the Internet in vain for that death scene in which Isadora jumps into her convertible, her long flowing scarf getting caught in the rear open-spoked wheel and strangling her as she attempted to drive away. All I remember is VANESSA REDGRAVE’s neck and body stretched into a horrible pose.

I was about five years old when saw this movie. I would like to see it again sometime just to see if that scene is still as freaky as the image that is burned into my memory.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you Laurel for broaching a subject that is on many people’s minds this time of year, SCARF SAFETY! We here at Kindertrauma are old enough to remember the grisly accident that took place at Crawford academy all so many years ago. One of the school’s elite “top ten” was repairing his motorbike when his trademark scarf got tangled in the spokes of it’s wheel and the results were grisly to say the least. So remember kids, by all means DO bundle up against the elements but remember safety first! We want all of you guys to be around on Christmas day when the baby Jesus sings HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Silent Night Bloody Night

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of public domain limbo, SNBN is beginning to build quite a reputation amongst horror enthusiasts. Filmed in 1972 and featuring a P.O.V. insane asylum escape and creepily voiced phone terrorism, this holiday horror predates slasher boom catalysts HALLOWEEN and BLACK CHRISTMAS. Many are beginning to perceive it as the missing link between 70’s sleaze and 80’s assembly line gore mongering. Cursed with one of it’s main star’s death (JAMES PATTERSON), a 2 year stint on the shelf and famously poor quality transfer issues, this film’s biggest break thus far has been a memorable presentation on ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE in the mid eighties. (actually it double featured with my ultimate trauma inducer SATAN’S TRIANGLE) B-movie goddess MARY WARONOV stars as Diane Adams, the mayor’s daughter in the town of East Willard who gets wrapped up in a chain of events involving a foreboding mansion’s ownership. The house has a grim history that involves much of the town and the impending sale of the property has irked a shadowy black-gloved killer who could be anyone. What fascinates most here is the film’s unique tone and visual style. Somber, barely decipherable images float along side Woronov’s ice cold narration and an offbeat soundtrack to produce a nearly trance like effect. Fans of the eerie non-logic and ambiguous finale of LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH will feel right at home here. Those who prefer a clean get away after viewing should stand warned, recalling the film’s plot as the credits roll is akin to trying to remember an elusive childhood nightmare.


  • The abrupt PSYCHO-esque axe murder cuts through the foggy atmosphere like…well, like an axe!
  • The sepia soaked flashback that plays like THE BROTHERS QUAY animating the shroud of Turin
  • Woronov’s factory cohorts CANDY DARLING and ONDINE appear
  • Wine glass shoved in eye
  • The shocking, befuddling conclusion

*KINDERFLASH!!!: For more on SNBN check out this recent review at MMMMmovies. The always alert and versed Vicar of VHS also unearthed this intriguing SNBN fansite. Thanks Vicar!


i've been a bad girl this year santa!

After braining her husband Joseph Christmas Eve with a fireplace poker, Elizabeth (MARY ELLEN TRAINOR) shoos her Santa-obsessed daughter Carrie Ann off to bed, and sets out to dispose of his body in a snow-covered well. While struggling with the hubby’s corpse, Elizabeth encounters an axe-wielding, insane asylum escapee (LARRY DRAKE of DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW fame) dressed in full Santa Claus regalia. With a swift kick to his holiday package, Elizabeth successfully fends off the lunatic, and a suspenseful cat-and-mouse game of naughty-versus-not-so-nice proportions ensues. Directed by ROBERT ZEMECKIS (the then-husband of Ms. TRAINOR), this half-hour episode of the late ‘80s HBO horror staple is a remake of the JOAN COLLINS vignette featured in the 1972 flick TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Although COLLINS leaves some pretty big pumps to fill, TRAINOR earns a well-deserved spot on Santa’s shitlist.


  • Elizabeth gives her husband the poker
  • Insane Santa climbing the ladder to Carrie Ann’s window
  • The Crypt Keeper dressed as Saint Nick (in a word, adorable!)

Santa baby!